The BBC’s “Panorama” last night might’ve torpedoed England’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup with reports of widespread sleaze on the part of international soccer’s governing body, along with the claim FIFA would make no tax contribution whatsoever to the host nation. For the Guardian’s Sean Ingle and Paul Doyle, it’s a bit much to witness, “Davids Cameron and Beckham and Big Billy Windsor, spinelessly genuflecting before Fifa snollygosters in a bid to host a tournament that will allow Fifa to get rich, rich, richer on the back of you, you, you!”
In this time of cut-backs and sackings and smug two-finger gestures from fat cats, your government has not only agreed to these terms but has dispatched their top banana to Switzerland to plead “pick me, pick me, pick me!” like some giddy floozy on American’s Next Top Model. The Dutch government told Fifa to stick their demands right up their flabby posteriors “ the joint Dutch-Belgian bid has suffered but at least their integrity is intact. The British establishment, by contrast, lacks the bottle to do likewise, or perhaps just doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with big business sh@fting the little guy. After all, it’s not as if we’re not all in this together.
The revelation of Fifa’s demands on bidding nations “ which in addition to tax exemption for Fifa “and all its subsidiaries” orders that governments suspend their immigration laws for the duration of the tournament – was the biggest scandal to emerge from last night’s much-anticipated Panorama feature, even if those demands are not illegal. But there were, of course, also allegations of outlaw behaviour. Panorama accused three members of Fifa’s gilded nomenklatura of trousering monstrous bribes as part of a scam involving around $100m of illicit payments. The alleged payments were made over a decade ago, yet although, according to the BBC, big chief Sepp Blatter was aware of allegations of at least some of this chicanery, all three trough-dwellers remain in situ and, indeed, will be among the 23 executive committee members who will decide on Thursday where to stage the 2018 rip-off. There would have been 25 old men voting, of course, but two of them are suspended following previous allegations of corruption by the Sunday Times.